Back to the Kitchen: Everything You Need to Know About FIGS

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For me, the best part of late August is fig season! Figs are a sensuous fruit that that represents abundance and fertility. Some people get annoyed that the bids and squirrels enjoy their harvest, but most people I know with fig trees are thrilled to share with feather, furry and human friends because the tree bears so much fruit! I love the excitement that fig season creates. They have a short late summer season and unlike getting a very expensive not so sweet berry in the winter, you just can’t find fresh figs all year.

I like to stuff them with goat’s cheese and drizzle with honey. You can wrap them in prosciutto, stuff them with Maytag blue cheese and toss in your favorite salad! The dried ones work well in some recipes, but go quickly and create some fabulous fresh fig dishes. They are all over the markets, but don’t forget about our friends at where you can find locations to pick up your own fallen fruit! Here are some of my most popular fig recipes and a brand-new this season that have gotten rave reviews!

Fig and Hazelnut Jam with Apples and Parmesan

This is my take on a traditional Southern Italian appetizer. The fig jam keeps well so it is nice to have on hand for drop in guests. You can use 12 dried figs when not in season! You can use any apples, but I like the more tart varieties. I also use cognac because someone gave me a bottle of Hennessey and it just adds a subtle depth of flavor. If you prefer no alcohol you can use a good balsamic instead. The better the Parmesan, the more richness and diverse flavor combinations.

8 figs, halved

1-cup simple syrup (1 cup water + 2 cups sugar)

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

3-tablespoon cognac or brandy

3 apples, sliced 1/4 inch

Wedge of Parmesan cheese, thinly shaved about the size of an apple slice

In a small saucepan bring the water and the sugar to a boil. When the sugar is completely dissolved turn off the heat and add the figs. When cool place the fig mixture and the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse so it is mixed, but you can still see little chunks of hazelnut. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place your apple slices on a platter and spread generously with jam and then place a piece of cheese on top.

Fresh Fig Salsa

2 cups (about 1 pound) fresh firm-ripe figs, stemmed, diced

2 mangos, diced

Juice of 2-3 limes

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste

1/4 cup very finely slivered fresh ginger

1 red onion, cut into thin slivers

1 to 2 small jalapeños, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup coarsely cut cilantro

Combine all ingredients and chill several hours to blend flavors. Serve with broiled or grilled fish, chicken, pork, beef or lamb or simply eat with chips for dipping.

Homemade Tortilla Chips

12 count package of corn tortillas

Peanut oil for frying (Peanut oil is the best for holding heat. If you have a nut allergy try coconut oil or a vegetable oil is the next best thing.)

Kosher salt

Preheat oil in deep skillet. On a cutting board stack 4 tortillas and cut into 8 wedges. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Add a handful of wedges to the hot oil. Separate any that stick together. Fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on a cookie sheet lined with a brown paper bag or paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and continue with the remaining tortillas.

Cranberry Fig Chutney

2 cups cranberries

2 cups Calimyrna figs, sliced

1 red onion, chopped

2 inches ginger minced,

1 cup packed brown sugar

1-cup water

1/3-cup balsamic vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator about 4 hours or up to 2 weeks. Great over chicken, fish or tossed with steamed veggies!

Basmati Rice with Fig and Ginger

You can add cooked chicken or cooked salmon to this or serve as a side!

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon mustard seeds

1/2 cup minced onion

1 Tablespoon minced or grated ginger

1 jalapeno or other hot, small pepper, seeded and minced

2 cups basmati rice

Salt to taste

4 small, firm figs

Put butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, onion, ginger, and jalapeno. Cook until onion softens, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add rice8 and stir. Add salt, figs and 3-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 10 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to steam another 10 minutes.

Fig and Orange Chicken

This is one of my most popular chicken dishes! It is so simple and is really a one-meal dish.

1 red onion, coarsely chopped

1/2-cup currants

10 Black Mission figs or 8 of the larger, amber-colored Calimyrna figs, cut into halves

1 1/2 cups orange juice

4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce,

1-tablespoon curry powder

1-tablespoon soy sauce

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 pounds chicken pieces or 6 boneless breasts

10 New potatoes, quartered

4 carrots, sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Place washed chicken, carrots and potatoes in Pyrex or roasting pan. In a medium bowl mix the rest of the ingredients. Pour over chicken and bake at 400 for 35-40 minutes basting at least twice during cooking.

Fettuccine with Figs and Pancetta

I love the sweet savory flavors in this pasta. The rosemary gives it a beautiful finish.

1 cup pancetta, finely chopped

1 small red onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

1-cup chicken stock

3/4 lb firm-ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

Juice of one lemon

1-pound fettuccine

In a large sauté pan heat oil. Add pancetta and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and rosemary and sauté for 5 minutes longer. Stir in wine and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in stock, figs, parsley, half of pancetta, and lemon juice.

Cook fettuccine in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2-cup cooking water, and then drain pasta in a colander.

Add fettuccine to fig mixture with 1/4 cup reserved cooking water and salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low heat, tossing gently and adding more cooking water if mixture becomes dry, until just heated through.

Serve pasta with the remaining pancetta and freshly shaved Parmesan on top.

Cornmeal Crusted Pizza With Goat Cheese and Figs

This recipe is also great with Prosciutto or pancetta! Brie is an awesome addition instead of goats cheese!

Fig Topping Mixture:

Note: this is enough for 1- 12-inch pizza. The cornmeal pizza dough makes 2 -12 inch pizzas. You can triple the fig recipe or freeze the unused set crusts!

1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil

3 red onions, thinly sliced

1-tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 cup thinly sliced figs, steams trimmed

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

1 12-inch cornmeal crust

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

Melt butter and olive oil in a stockpot. Stir in onions, vinegar, salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Stir in figs and sprinkle with thyme and mix well and remove from heat. Spread evenenly over corn meal crust and bake for 7 minutes when the cheese melted and the crust is crisp.

For 3 cornmeal crusts:

1/2-cup warm water

1 1/4 tbsp active dry yeast

1-tablespoon sugar

1/4-cup cornmeal

2 3/4 – 3 1/4 cups flour, divided

1-tablespoon olive oil

1-teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine water, yeast, sugar, cornmeal and 1 1/4 cups flour; mix thoroughly. Let rest 5 minutes Add oil, salt and enough flour to form a ball. Knead, adding flour as needed, about 3 to 5 minutes or until not sticky. Place dough in a bowl and sea with plastic wrap and cover with a towel. Let rest 45 minutes.

Coat pizza pans or cookie sheets with cooking spray.

Divide dough in half and pat or roll out to fit pizza pans, forming a slight edge on the dough. Prick holes in dough and bake for about 8 minutes. (Dough should be set but not brown.) Top with fig mixture and bake for 7 minutes longer.

Oatmeal Cookies with Figs and Cranberries

These are a traditional, rich, buttery cookie. The figs and cranberries give it a classy twist. The recipe calls for dries fogs because I make them all year long, but fresh figs are a welcome replacement!

1 3/4 cup flour

3/4-teaspoon baking soda

3/4-teaspoon baking powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon cinnamon

1/2-teaspoon nutmeg

2 sticks butter

1/4-cup sugar

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

1cup-dried cranberries, chopped

1 cup dried figs, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl beat the butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg. Add to the butter mixture until blended and smooth. Add oats and fruit. Spray cookie sheets with bakers joy and drop a tablespoon of dough spacing about 3 inches apart. Bake until lightly brown and firm about 10 minutes. Cool on racks.

Fig Ice Cream

I got a beautiful ice cream maker as a gift and have been playing with recipes! This one is getting better and better as fig season progresses!

2 tablespoons butter

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh figs

½ cup brown sugar

1-teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons flour

¼ teaspoon salt

4-½ cups half-and-half

2 eggs beaten

2 tablespoons vanilla

Heat butter in a non-stick skillet. Add fresh figs and brown sugar and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and stir in cinnamon and ginger. In a saucepan combine sugar and salt. Slowly whisk in 2-½ cups half-and-half. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until mixture starts to thicken, stirring constantly. Gradually stir one cup of hot half-and-half mixture into beaten eggs. Then stir egg-half-and-half mixture into the sugar, salt and half and half mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Stir in cooked figs and cook for an additional minute. Refrigerate mixture for two hours or overnight. Stir in remaining two cups of half-and-half and vanilla. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers’ directions.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.